Keeping Up with C&K

Wow! It sure has been awhile. I hate to have taken such an extensive break from blogging, but C&K needed some R&R and refocusing. My restaurant and cooking explorations have far from ended, but I decided I needed a bit of a technology break as well. I even went so far as to take a 8 day trip to Amsterdam and Belgium, where I had more than my fair share of great food, particularly in the chocolate category.

Now that I’m back in action, I’d like to share what I’ve been eating lately, in addition to a peek at some of the eats I had while exploring Europe!

Where I’ve Been Eating Lately…

Noble Fish, Clawson

This place is my sushi go-to. If you haven’t been to Noble Fish, then you need to go ASAP. Don’t walk…run there! While I’m still warming up to sashimi in general, I’m crazy about the sushi rolls and hand rolls at Noble Fish. They’re mostly known for carry-out, but they do have a small seating area. Better yet, Noble Fish also doubles as kick-ass Japanese grocery store. The Michigan Roll and spicy tuna are my faves, but there are so many others I have yet to try.

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Pop’s for Italian/The Daily Dinette, Ferndale

IMG_4648.JPGThis pair of restaurants are situated side-by-side on the bustling 9 mile strip in downtown Ferndale. The Kramer Restaurant Group, also known for One-Eyed Betty’s and Rosie O’ Grady’s, has come up with a genius combination of home-style Italian and a casual all-day eatery.  I’d recommend heading to Pop’s for a date or fun night out with friends. Make sure to try the Burrata and Prosciutto appetizer! At the Daily Dinette next door, they serve delicious food any time of day, but I prefer to go in the morning hours for their Nitro cold brew coffee and one of their amazing homemade donuts (I am a fan of the Homer Simpson donut, which is in fact, better than the cartoon version).

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And some amazing food from my Euro-trip…

Clock-wise from top to bottom: Netherland-style pancakes (pannekoek) in Amsterdam, Speculoos cookie flavored hot chocolate in Luxembourg, fresh mussels from Belgium, traditional Belgian-style stoemp (potatoes mashed with vegetables) and breaded fish, Belgian french fries, and AMAZING Belgian chocolate!

 

Korea Palace is King in Sterling Heights

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As you may or may not have read, my last post highlighted some great spots I tried last year that I’d return to at the drop of a hat. But to ring in 2016, I’ve been trying as many new places as I can and having pretty good luck discovering some new restaurant staples.

So far, I am eager to get back to Korea Palace in Sterling Heights. While I’ve easily passed this location without a second thought, this unassuming storefront is not at all what it seems from the outside.


When I first stepped inside, I was immediately drawn to the booths. I believe all of them include stovetops built into the tables, providing the ultimate, hands-on Korean barbecue experience. Unfortunately, something must have gone wrong with the stove situation the night I visited, because our waiter stated that it would be better for our food to be cooked in the kitchen.

Despite this petit faux pas, the presentation and taste far exceeded my expectations. I figured the Bibimbap would be as authentic as I could get in the U.S., so I opted for this special dish which comes sizzling hot in a small cast-iron pot. It’s essentially a stir-fry with your choice of protein and an over-easy egg on top. I opted for the bulgogi on mine, which is thinly sliced, well-seasoned strips of beef.

The bulgogi was extremely tender, and the rice was a soothing shade of lavender (don’t worry, it didn’t taste like lavender). I loved the texture of the runny egg yolk mixed in, and I was not shy about adding plenty of hot sauce.

My dining counterpart, who happens to be a dear friend of mine, had ventured to Korea Palace a handful of times and knew the bulgogi barbecue meal was the way to go. Her dish came with appetizers of kimchi, other pickled vegetables, bean sprouts, and a few additional odds and ends. Thankfully, sIMG_4202.JPGhe allowed me to indulge, which of course I did without hesitation.

Unlike the bulgogi in my Bibimbap, hers was brushed with a tangy, semi-sweet BBQ marinade. It had just  the right combination of salty and sweet flavors, and was perfectly sautéed with onions, carrots, and green onions. 

Aside from the great food, the service is very quick and efficient — but don’t expect any small talk. If there are people waiting for tables, which often happens due to the restaurant’s quaint size, don’t be surprised if the waitstaff not-so-subtly hints for you to make your exit once you’ve paid your bill. I didn’t mind too much, because we were able to enjoy our meal at a leisurely pace without much interruption.

Korea Palace has experienced much success, having been voted the best Korean spot in  the annual contest held by Detroit’s own Hour Magazine, “Hour Detroit Best of Detroit,” and are hoping to hold onto that title in 2016.

With their quality of food, expansive menu, and not to mention, their relaxed atmosphere, Korea Palace definitely has my vote.

Exceptional Eats in 2015

Merry belated Christmas to all of my readers out there  who celebrate! I hope you all had a wonderful time, and of course, ate some fantastic food. I definitely indulged in some pretty exceptional Christmasy baked goods at work, and not to mention, traditional Jewish Christmas cuisine — Chinese food!

Now that Christmas is over, we have 2016 to celebrate! Looking back on 2015, I am feeling pretty satisfied with the way I spent my time, especially related to the Detroit food scene. I got to try some fantastic food and make connections with some exceptional people — local restaurateurs, chefs, writers, and not to mention, other foodies who are just as geeked as I am about what’s happening with Detroit’s food scene.

Right before our eyes, the city of Detroit is quickly becoming a food mecca. While it’s no New York or L.A., Detroit is certainly paving its own way. Passionate people with a desire to bring amazing tastes to city-dwellers and suburbanites alike are heading successful new restaurant ventures all over town.

While I cannot discount the fact that Detroit still has serious problems, I personally am thrilled that the city is making a come-back in the food world.

A New Year’s goal of mine is to continue to support local businesses, particularly new restaurants, coffee shops, and bakeries popping up all over town. If you’re looking to do the same, then you’ll want to take a peek at my top favorite new food spots I encountered in 2015.

Cheers to a great rest of 2015 and continued achievements for this awesome city in 2016!

1. Forest, Birmingham

Forest is Samy Eid’s new baby. You may recognize his name — he also IMG_3939.jpgruns Birmingham’s Phoenicia. Formerly known as Forest Grille, Eid gutted the interior and hired a passionate team to serve up authentic, Euro-American fare. Exec chef, Nick Janutol, who ran the kitchen back when it was still Forest Grille, is serving up simple, yet elegant dishes with high-quality ingredients. Recommendations include the carrot soup, farm egg, Branzino, and linguine alle vongole. Save some room for the Baked Alaska for dessert!

2. The Sardine Room, Plymouth

If you like seafood, then the Sardine Room should be your next restaurant visit. While there are multiple local spots that know how to do seafood, the Sardine Room offers quality dishes, and not to mention, probably the freshest oysters I’ve tasted in this area. With a mix of small plates and larger dishes, this is a great place for sharing and sampling. Top recommendations include the fresh oysters, grilled octopus, and sea scallops.

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3. Dime Store, Detroit

Talk about full-flavor dishes in a cozy setting! Dime Store is one of those spots you’ll want to bring some friends on a rainy, Saturday morning. Sip on a cup of coffee alongside a delectable pastry while you wait for your main course to arrive. Great for breakfast or lunch, Dime Store is a new favorite of many in the downtown scene. Make sure to try their Duck Bop IMG_3009Hash with a side of drool-worthy bacon, parm, and truffle fries!

 

 

4. GreenSpace Cafe, Ferndale

One of Ferndale’s newest additions, GreenSpace cafe opened its doors in early December 2015. While more veggie and vegan-friendly restaurants have been popping up, GreenSpace sets themselves apart from the rest by using minimal oils and chemical additives. Their dishes are flavorful and plated beautifully, such as their Pad Thai with tofu, and mushroom tacos. They also specialize in hand-crafted cocktails, in addition to a unique additions to their drink menu — cold pressed juices and Kombucha!

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5. Craft Work, Detroit

This spot went above and beyond my expectations. I stopped here on the night before Thanksgiving, not sure what to expect. Turns out, I made an exceptional discovery. Craft Work is a great cocktail bar with a creative menu. I opted for the “Sage Advice,” a delicious beverage  made with Hendrick’s, shaken and stirred just to my liking. For dinner, sample their IMG_3956.JPGcheesy crab dip and enjoy their perfectly crisp, not greasy, panko-breaded fish and chips. If you’re looking for something lighter, they have healthy, yet delicious options such as their “Red Beet and Cauliflower.” Vegan and gluten free, this dish will not disappoint!

 

C&K Readers, what are some of your favorite spots that you discovered in 2015? What spots are at the top of your list for 2016? Share with me in a comment, Tweet, or Facebook post!

Thank you for your readership this year, and make sure to share my blog with fellow Detroiters or food-savvy friends!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eastern Market is Everything!

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Bert’s Warehouse

Last Saturday, I strolled through Eastern Market while on an excellent tour of the finest food vendors and establishments in the area. The tour is called, “Come Hungry, Leave Happy,” and is run by  a great company called “Feet on the Street.”  I’d highly recommend this tour to anyone who loves a little Detroit food history, and of course, wants the opportunity to indulge in some of Detroit’s best food creations!

The tour begins and ends at Rocky’s, a historic grocery store filled with decadent nuts, candy, and other snack items. The tour quickly moves along to some of the sheds at Eastern Market, where the sampling begins.

One of my favorite stops on the tour was Gabriel’s, a hole-in-the-wall, grocery store with imported food items such as Greek olives and homemade pastries/dips. Mike, who has Greek and Lebanese heritage, educated us on how to best preserve olive oil and of course, all of its health benefits! I was reminded NOT to set my olive oil anywhere near a warm area or stove, which is definitely a rookie mistake that I am guilty of making.

Mike not only schooled us in the world of olive oil and olives, but also prepared us a beautiful

Gabriel's

Gabriel’s

spread of various types of hummus (dill, beet, and regular), tzatziki, baba ghanoush, cheese, homemade grape leaves, spinach pies, and falafel. I could have honestly spent the day schmoozing with him and snacking on all of my favorite foods!

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Supino Pizzeria

Just when I thought I was satisfied off of Mediterranean food, I got to try some of Detroit’s finest pizza. Even at 10:30 in the morning, I had no qualms about chowing down on some ‘za at Supino Pizzera. I had attempted to eat there during the summer, but didn’t have the time to wait in the line that was trailing out the door.

Supino pizza is truly one-of-a-kind, and you’ll be extremely impressed on the authenticity and  freshness that stems from Dave Mancini ‘s Italian roots. Even their margherita pizza is a flavor powerhouse!

After your belly is filled with gooey cheese and decadent toppings, your tour guide will take you along to some of the back-ends and hidden gems of Eastern Market, where you’ll witness jaw-dropping graffiti art, murals, and get the inside scoop on Detroit’s famous letter-press shop/studio, Signal-Return.

The BEST pizza!

The BEST pizza!

I don’t want to give all of the excitement away, but I’d highly encourage you to grab some buds and sign up for this awesome tour of the D (especially before winter really is here to stay)!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out of This World Burgers at Mercury Burger Bar!

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So you’re probably wondering, where the heck is C&K’s annual pumpkin post? It’s officially pumpkin season, so bring it on!!!

I hate to break it to you, but this pumpkin craze has gone off the charts. I’ve always been the type that likes to “rebel” now and then, and this is my way of doing so — by posting about some mouthwatering, over-the-top burgers instead!

While many of us are very picky about our burgers, Mercury Burger Bar in Corktown has a burger for everyone. Don’t like burgers? They have a whole slew of sandwiches, and not to mention alcoholic milkshakes to satisfy the boozers in your life. Just kidding 🙂

Since the word “burger” is in the title of the restaurant, I felt like I had to go with one of their many unique patty combinations. While I am more of a turkey or veggie burger kind of girl (I know, sooo typical), I decided to order the real deal.

My beef burger of choice was “The Juicy,” which had gooey, melty cheese on top AND inside of the patty. And it comes with the traditional add-ons — lettuce, tomato, pickle, and onion, but you can obviously opt out or add on other toppings. This place also has an amazing cart of hot sauces and condiments.

My one pet peeve about burger places is when fries are a la carte. Mercury Burger Bar does this, but they do make up for it with other tempting sides, including loaded tots various ways (I tried the chili cheese tots), and bigger-than-your-head onion rings. And coleslaw, for those who at least want to attempt having a balanced meal here. They also offer a bunch of great toppings for no additional charge, like jalapenos, green olives , and Zanahorias (pickled spiced carrots)!

Mercury is definitely the kind of place to go before or after catching some live entertainment downtown, to cure a hangover or reduce a drunken stupor, or to take someone who is new to Detroit and thinks all we do well are coney dogs.

Mercury Burger Bar proves their worth, and definitely left a permanent grease stain on my heart.

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Price range: $11-30

Location: 2163 Michigan Ave., Detroit, 48216

Hours:  Mon. – Thurs. 11 am -11 pm, (bar open until midnight), Fri. and Sat. 11 am – 1 am (kitchen and bar), Sun. 11 am – 11 pm (bar open until midnight)

Phone: (313) 964-5000  *No reservations

 

Get a head start on figuring out your order by checking out their killer menu here!

 

Cookin’ Shortcuts for Busy People

Hello C&K readers! I truly apologize for my long absence from posting. I am humbled by your continued support and feedback. Being busy is no excuse, but we all know the challenges of keeping up with work, family, friends, and of course, basic needs.

Speaking of basic needs, eating is something I’m still making a conscious effort to do (actually, it’s a no-brainer). Lately, I’ve been cutting corners with my recipes since I am typically pressed for time. Multi-step recipes have almost gone out the window in my house! Plus, if you’re like me and cooking for one most of the time, it’s even harder to muster up the motivation to go out and buy ingredients for a fancy Pinterest recipe.

If you’re with me on this, then stay tuned. Below, I’ve listed some of my go-to recipe hacks and tricks so you can keep eating healthy, save money, and are not running out to pick up food so much!

  1. Think of at least THREE recipes you’ll realistically make this week, and grocery shop accordingly. While I usually am that wide-eyed girl meandering around the grocery store and just grabbing whatever looks good, I save dollars and time by mapping out at least a few meals for the week.
  2. Frozen food is your friend. No, I’m not talking about Lean Cuisine or ice cream (although ice cream is always a good choice). If you are buying fresh produce but not using it quickly enough, then you are familiar with finding a wilty, slimy mess in your fridge. To avoid this, aim for frozen fruits and veggies! Many varieties of frozen veggies cook up in the microwave in no time and are not necessarily less nutritional than their fresh counterparts.
  3. Prepare breakfast/lunch the night before. I know what you’re thinking — the last thing that you want to do at the end of a long day is prepare food. That seems like MORE work! But, if you’ve followed tip #1 and have groceries stocked up, then this should not take you very long. And, if you’re in the midst of making dinner, you can do this while you’re waiting for something to bake! I tend to keep my lunches simple but exciting. I often make salads with lots of fun ingredients like cheese, chicken, deli meat, a veggie patty, sundried tomatoes, etc., or a sandwich or wrap. Leftovers from dinner also make for minimal lunch prep. Throw in an apple, string cheese, or some nuts with your main dish, and you’ll be set!
  4. Three words: Hard Boiled Eggs. I’ve recently made the discovery that hard boiled eggs keep me full for a long, long time. While making dinner or doing laundry, boil some eggs and keep ’em in the fridge to eat for a filling, quick breakfast or a snack all week long.
  5. You don’t have to make everything from scratch. I am a big believer in eating natural foods, but sometimes you gotta take shortcuts! While I occasionally take the time to make homemade sauces, you can minimize some time and save a little energy by buying some pre-made stuff. I love Kirkland brand pesto from Costco and Trader Joe’s frozen sweet potato gnocchi (check out the photo below of my latest gnocchi creation)!

Readers, do you have any hacks for time-crunched peeps? Share with me in a comment, Facebook post, Tweet, or on Instagram @coneysandkale.

Sweet potato gnocchi with Shiitake mushrooms and Fairytale eggplant

Sweet potato gnocchi with Shiitake mushrooms and Fairytale eggplant in a sage butter sauce

Cheers for Beers!

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Beer is a hot commodity these days, and thankfully, Michiganders don’t have to travel very far to drink some amazing craft brews. With big-name breweries like Bell’s in Kalamazoo, Founders in Grand Rapids, and smaller-scale breweries like Atwater in Detroit, Michigan is becoming a destination for beer lovers. Bell’s alone has moved up in the rankings as one of the nation’s top breweries by the Brewer’s Association. Not to brag, but we’ve got a good thing goin’ in the mitten state!

Metro Detroit alone has its fair share of breweries and beer-savvy bars. Spots that are well-known for their Michigan craft beer selection are popping up in Royal Oak, Ann Arbor, and the “D.” While I love a good road trip and brewery tour, it’s nice to know where to go and sip on quality beer just a few miles away.

So, if you’re tired of having to trek to a specialty store or brew your own stuff, you are in luck. C&K has thought long and hard about the most tried and true brewpubs around town and wants to share them with you! Cheers!

1. One-Eyed Betty’s – 175 W Troy Ave, Ferndale 

While the name of this restaurant sure sounds a little creepy, you will find yourself immediately relaxed once you step inside. One-Eyed Betty’s will make you feel like a kid in a candy store (well, beer store, in this case). This place is known for its whopping selection of 44 rotating craft beers on tap. In the mood for an IPA? Betty’s has ’em! More of a Belgian beer lover? You’re in luck. Need a little help deciding? Their waitstaff is great at offering only the most honest advice in selecting a suitable beer for you. If you’re also craving some food, their pretzel appetizer always hits the spot. They also have an extensive menu of sandwiches, salads, burgers, and filling entrees. If you’re not too full on beer, their donuts are supposedly out of this world!

2. HopCat – 4265 Woodward Ave, Detroit 

HopCat is a Michigan-based chain with a stellar reputation. With its recent opening in Midtown, HopCat is one of the coolest places around for a round (or two or three) of beers. If you’re choosy about your craft beer, you’re in luck — HopCat has 130 taps filled with cold beer and cider. You won’t want to leave without ordering some crack fries (I hear “loaded” is the way to go), but they also have plenty of other food options if you’re craving a solid meal. With their endless beverage options, musical entertainment galore in their Huma Room and plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, you may turn into a regular quicker than you think! Also, be sure to check out their Happy Hour dates and specials listed on their website.

3. The Rock on Third – 112 E. Third Street, Royal Oak

This place may look like nothing special, but their beer selection (130 craft beers from all over the world) and drink discounts all week long are something to treasure. You’ll always be able to find a Michigan beer on tap from award-winning breweries like Short’s, Bell’s, and even Frankenmuth. With daily specials and unbeatable prices, this is a casual “Happy Hour” or Friday night drinking destination. Their food is nothing to write home about, but they offer the typical bar eats like wings and pizza that you suddenly find yourself craving after a few too many. Check out their killer offerings on their website.

4. M-Brew – 177 Vester Street, Ferndale

I will be completely honest with you — I was a bit hesitant to share this one. M-Brew is one of those hidden little gems that I greedily wanted to keep to myself. But, I decided to be generous to my dedicated readers and give you the inside scoop on this wonderful little place. While sipping on one or more of their 30 Michigan craft beers on tap, you can play old-school arcade games like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong in their “Basement Brewcade.” It’s pretty awesome, if you ask me. I haven’t sampled their food just yet, but their pizza and pasties have a good reputation from what I hear. Proud n’ nerdy beer-loving guys and girls, this is the perfect place for you.

5. Ale Mary’s – 318 S. Main Street, Royal Oak

Bringing in the crowds since opening day, Ale Mary’s is a popular choice for beer fans roaming the streets of downtown RO. Not only will you love their selection of craft brews, but you’re bound to find something delicious to eat. Their Cheese & Charcuterie Board  or Beer Glazed Pork Belly are just a couple of hearty options to start off your Ale Mary’s experience. Whether you dine inside or out, you will love the bustling and warm vibe of one of Royal Oak’s newest and best beer spots. Check out their beer menu before stopping in!

Share your favorite beer spot on Facebook, Twitter @coneysandkale, or tag me in a post at coneysandkale on Instagram!